The Capital Regional District (CRD) is considering adding paid parking at several parks, which would go towards upgrading area trails.
The fees are being proposed at nine regional parks: Devonian Park, East Sooke Regional Park, Matheson Lake, Mill Hill Regional Park, Horth Hill, Sooke Hills Wilderness (south access), Sea to Sea Park, Elk and Beaver Lake, and Witty’s Lagoon.
The parks were selected due to being easily accessible by transit, walking, or cycling as highlighted in the CRD’s Regional Parks and Trail Strategic Plan.
The funds generated from parking fees would go towards widening and lighting the Galloping Goose and Lochside trails.
“The board has asked staff to provide non-tax-based ways to generate funds and this is the one that seems to be a potential option,” said Colin Plant, board chair with the CRD.
The project to upgrade the trails will cost $53.5 million and Plant says he’s hoping to secure provincial and federal grants to do that work, but the board is exploring other avenues to secure funding.
“While we’re hopeful to get grants from the provincial and federal governments to do that work, we’re also looking at innovative ways to generate funding to offset those costs for borrowing,” said Plant.
The current proposal will keep the short-term, two-hour parking at $2 through 2026. Daily parking would start $2.25 and rise to $7.00 in three years.
The season parking pass would begin at $30 in 2024 and jump to $60 in 2026.
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Plant says the season pass would be valid at other regional parks.
“To be adding another cost for families, for people to get their kids out in nature and to the lake, I think it’s preposterous,” said Diana Lilly who visits Elk and Beaver Lake frequently.
“The idea of having to come to the park or not having to go to the park with the kids because ‘you know we’ll have to pay, so let’s do something else,’ seems like it’s just not creating community,” said parent Josh Budlovsky.
The fees were determined by averaging rates across the region and province. Plant says that if the parking fees are implemented, they could stay in the future to help fund other park projects.
“I do believe that with the minimal amount that we’re talking about—because let’s face it, if you were to go downtown and park for an hour or two, you’d be paying a similar amount of funds—that people will continue to use our parks system,” said Plant.
The proposal will first have to be approved by the CRD’s Parks Committee which will happen on Sept. 27. The board will then make a final decision before implementation, which is expected to happen in October.